Almost two years ago, Cindy Harris quietly wrote a children's book about the misadventures of a raccoon and submitted her idea to Tate Publishing.
"I didn't tell anybody. The only person who knew was my husband," said Harris. "In January 2010, I heard they would publish it, production started last July and the book was released March 22."
"Raoke and the Camp Raid" ($8.99, 24 pages) teaches preschool and elementary children character traits of caring, sharing and kindness to others. Raoke Day's name (pronounced Ray-okee) is an acronym for Random Act Of Kindness Every Day, something the cartoon raccoon tries to do each day.
In his introduction to readers, Raoke knows his buddies are up to trouble, but he wants to do what he knows is right.
"It's very cute," said Kara Downes, manager of Winder Binder, who reads the book to her 9-month-old daughter.
"My daughter runs her fingers over the pages, points to the raccoons. The colors are darker blues and grays, but they still grab her attention."
Downes said she loved that when Harris held a book signing at A Novel Idea, the author signed her name with "Always be kind to others."
Harris said Tate editors requested more Raoke stories for a series, but she waited to see how her audience would accept him.
"Since this was a new experience and I didn't have any idea whether children would like the book or not, I wanted to make sure. To my delight, children have fallen in love with Raoke and are ready for book two," said the author.
She said three more Raoke adventures have been submitted to her publisher for the series.
Q What inspired a raccoon character?
A We took our church youth group of 40 kids camping in Florida. Raccoons raided our campground and ate all our hot dogs. So this stems from that story.
Q How did you decide upon the raccoon's name, Raoke Day?
AI wanted something kids would remember and once you explain it to them - Random Act Of Kindness Every Day - they remember that phrase. Children will come up to me in church and say, "I did a random act of kindness today."
Q What acts of kindness have you witnessed?
A My sister's home in McDonald was severely damaged [by the April 27 tornadoes]. A group from our church went to her house to help clean up. While there, a steady stream of cars came by with people stopping to ask if we needed anything. People dropped by and gave us bottled water and food. One lady even stopped just to hug my sister and pray for her.
Q Where is the book sold?
A A Novel Idea Bookstore, Hixson LifeWay Christian Bookstore, tatepublishing.com and on amazon.com.
"Raoke and the Camp Raid" is also offered as an eBook download at tatepublishing.com.
Contact Susan Pierce at email@example.com or 423-757-6284.
--Hometown: Wahoo, Neb., moved to Chattanooga at age 11.
--Occupation: Legal secretary at Miller & Martin for 27 years.
--Family: She and husband Tim have two sons and two grandchildren.
--Hobbies: Reading, scrapbooking, camping.
--Favorite childhood book: "Little House on the Prairie" and "Heidi."
--Upcoming book signing: June 11 from 1 to 3:30 p.m., Books-a-Million, 5230 Highway 153.